Development and health facts about toddlers

Our family GP shares her tips and facts about toddlers


Did you know…

  • More than half of all one year olds go to bed after 10pm
  • The number of children under 5 who need extra help with speech and language has risen by 19% from 14,710 in 2008 to 17,940 today. Ask your GP if you’re worried about your little one’s development.

Are dummies preferable to thumb sucking?

Dummies and indeed thumb sucking have been shown to reduce the risk of cot death. But they’re also bad news for developing some dental problems. The main advantage of a dummy or soother is that it can be taken away when the time’s right. A thumb is always there, ready to be put in your little one’s mouth. Generally ensuring that a dummy is only given at set times means that your child’s speech and teeth can develop normally – but limiting its use and getting rid of it can be difficult. Try to be consistent from the start and find a time that’s right for both of you to phase a dummy out of your child’s life.

5 ways to improve listening skills in your toddler

1. Turn down background noise like the TV. It reduces her ability to distinguish between sounds.

2. Concentrate when she talks. This gets her used to eye contact and looking for non-verbal cues.

3. Be enthusiastic. Varying your voice helps hold her attention.

4. Read her a story. She’ll really focus in on your words.

5. Speak slowly and clearly. This gives her the best chance of processing what you’re saying.

New solution for children’s operation stress

Is your child due for an operation? If she is facing a general anaesthetic, it’s likely both of you are feeling a little nervous or stressed out about it. Your doctor might have discussed you being present in the room with your child while the anaesthetic’s given, or even giving her stress-reducing drugs. But research shows a simpler option could help – playing hand-held video games.

Analysing data from 17 different studies, researchers found that while the presence of parents in the room with their child is thought to soothe worries, actually letting the child get lost in a game is better at taking her mind off the op. Whether it’s simply because the game distracts the child isn’t clear, but if your little one is heading for theatre any time soon, it certainly can’t hurt to give it a try.


Stop Rickets’ rise with eggs 

Heard of rickets? You might not have, as it’s linked to malnutrition and poverty during the Victorian era, but recent studies have shown the disease is on the rise again in British children. The news has led to calls for vitamin D, which can help prevent rickets, to be added to milk and other foods. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to the sun and is also found in a few foods, such as oily fish, liver and egg yolks. But should you consider a supplement for your little one? If breast milk is the main drink then your baby should receive suitable vitamin supplements of A, C and D from the age of 6 months, and all toddlers should take supplements from age 1-5 unless you’re sure they get enough through their diet and sun exposure.

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